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Floating Winch Handle

Way back in 2006 I bought an 8" Titan Floating Winch Handle from West Marine for $37.99.


I've used this handle on various boats until this past Monday when I dropped it overboard. At the time I had just used it to raise the main as I was single handing my 35-foot boat. The handle fell in the water between Warwick Point and Patience. While the handle floats, the part that is visible while it is floating in the water is the hand grip, which is black. Narragansett Bay also appears black especially with a little chop. I managed to climb down onto my swim platform and touched the handle twice (something I now regard as very foolish). While I could initially see the black hand grip and some of the red shaft, I could not get my fingers around it to retrieve it. My first pass was under sail, my second was under power. While coming around for my third pass, under power, I managed to loose sight of it. I searched for a while, probably 15 minutes, before I gave up the handle to the fish. I would have to make do with the two other handles that I keep aboard. The fish must be building quite a boat with all of the parts that I have dropped overboard.

While teaching sailing I have taught other sailors MOB procedures as part of ASA 101 and 103 for the past 5 years. However, because I was on my boat, on my time, in my back yard, and it was warm, I was not wearing my PFD. It was only after returning that I realized how easily I could have fallen overboard, without a PFD, because of a dumb $40 handle. I can now picture my boat sailing across the head of Narragansett Bay with no one aboard. Maybe this is what happened on the Mary Celeste?

Once I returned to my mooring I started looking for a replacement. I was shocked that the price of these handles has risen to $49.99! I ordered this handle as a replacement from Walmart for $31.49;


The reviews look good, and an 8" floating handle is an 8" floating handle. I believe that the orange and blue are easier to see than the red and black. If not, I'll paint the handgrip with flourescent yellow plastic paint.
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Last edited by eherlihy; 2 Weeks Ago at 04:20 PM. Reason: mis-spelled Mary as Marie
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

2 handles lost in 35 years by "crew" ;-)
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pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

I have that exact same winch handle.

After a friend dropped a winch handle overboard during a charter, and we were billed an exorbitant amount by the charter company, I started bringing my own winch handle along.

I figured
A) It floats, so we have a half a chance of getting it back
B) If we don’t get it back, I’m out $40 instead of $140

It had never occurred to me that it would float black part up and be very hard to see.

I like the idea of painting the handle, except that I can imagine getting fluorescent paint chips all over the cockpit…

Maybe fluorescent tape?
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

You could wrap the handle with elec tape...yellow, orange etc or your special flavor
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

Five Oceans Marine Floating Locking Winch Handle 8"

Hey, $29.31 on Amazon dot com

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Re: Floating Winch Handle

I have that winch handle as well. I never tested it but always figured it wouldn't float well, would be hard to see, and the conditions leading to it's going overboard would not favour recovery, so it, like everything else that goes overboard is a sacrifice to the sea.

I wonder how long until the salvaged floating winch handle business begins to flourish. There must be tons of them washed up on the shore.
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

Hey, free stuff in the Bay!! Just kidding, I'd PM in the unlikely event I ran across it.

Found two things curious. First, that you thought it surprising that something you paid $38 for thirteen years ago would appreciate to $50 today. That about 2% per year.

Secondly, why bother with floating? They don't seem recoverable, at least by their original owner.

I've never had a floating handle. Are there other advantages with weight, etc? Intuitively, I would think them to be less sturdy, but floating boat hooks are just as good, I suppose. I have recovered the floating boat hook, more than once. The wife has a habit of hiking them link a football, after she retrieves a mooring pennant.
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

a totally dumb idea

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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Re: Floating Winch Handle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnesail View Post
With FREE Prime delivery... I found that one too after I ordered from WallyWorld...


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Re: Floating Winch Handle

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Hey, free stuff in the Bay!! Just kidding, I'd PM in the unlikely event I ran across it.

Found two things curious. First, that you thought it surprising that something you paid $38 for thirteen years ago would appreciate to $50 today. That about 2% per year.

Secondly, why bother with floating? They don't seem recoverable, at least by their original owner.

I've never had a floating handle. Are there other advantages with weight, etc? Intuitively, I would think them to be less sturdy, but floating boat hooks are just as good, I suppose. I have recovered the floating boat hook, more than once. The wife has a habit of hiking them link a football, after she retrieves a mooring pennant.
Yes, I suppose that it isn't a tremendous increase. My surprise is because the handle design is unchanged since 2006.

The floating handle gives you a chance at (tempts you with) recovery. Twice, I have had students knock the heavy metal Lewmar winch handles overboard. We did not even look for them. You would be surprised at how strong these plastic (fiber reinforced nylon I think) handles are.

Most of the reason I posted the story above is that I was ashamed at how stupid I was in trying to recover the damn handle while single handed. I like to think that my judgement is better than this. I hope that others learn from my mistake. It simply wasn't worth risking my boat (possibly my life - I used to be a good swimmer but I don't know about swimming half a mile in a cross current) over a $40, easily replaced handle (the replacement was ordered before I left the boat - and I had TWO 10-inch spares). Because I have taught so many MOB drills, I was over confident in my ability to recover the handle, and I neglected to don my PFD which was sitting on the deck under the dodger.

My point is this; if you drop something overboard on a cruising boat (high freeboard - not a daysailer), before you jump into MOB rescue mode take a moment to consider: 1 how you are going to retrieve the damn thing (I eventually grabbed a fish net from down below but this is how I lost sight of the handle), and 2 consider the consequences of your falling in while attempting recovery. If I were on one of the Colgate 26s that I have taught on, recovery would have been easy. Reach over (on the leeward side) and retrieve it. If I had a second person that could have taken the wheel (not Otto Helm), the consequences of my falling in would have been that I needed a towel. However, with 3+ feet of freeboard, and as a single hander, I should have either initially tried to recover with the net (I don't think that a boat hook would have worked), or simply left it there.
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Last edited by eherlihy; 2 Weeks Ago at 11:35 AM. Reason: typo
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